Rama Krishna Sangem
Opposition parties that met at Bangalore on July 17 and 18 formed into a new grouping called INDIA (Indian National Developmental and Inclusive Alliance). This INDIA front will fight BJP led NDA in coming Lok Sabha elections slated to be held in April/May 2014. Leaders of 26 opposition parties including Congress, TMC, DMK, SP, Shiv Sena, AAP and NCP are part of this INDIA.
With this, earlier Congress led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) is gone. This new front, INDIA, though mostly includes same parties, there is a lot of difference in its nature from IPA. I will discuss this later in this story. At the end of the two day session of the conclave on July 18,Tuesday, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge who presided over it, told the media that a 11 member coordination committee will be formed soon to steer the front.
Next, third meeting of INDIA will be held in Mumbai, later. Tuesday meeting at Bangalore is second one, after the first meeting at Patna, in Bihar on June 23. Rahul Gandhi (Congress) Sharad Pawar (NCP), Mamata Banerjee (TMC), Arvind Kejriwal (AAP), Uddhav Thackeray (SS) MK Stalin (DMK), Nitish Kumar (JD-U) and Lalu Prasad and Tejaswri (RJD) and others were among those present.
Congress parliamentary party chairperson Sonia Gandhi who hosted a dinner for them all on Monday night left for Delhi on Tuesday. Only a few of them addressed the media conference and took a few questions from the media. Kharge told the media that more details like who will be the face of the front, INDIA, and what will be the campaign theme etc will be chalked out at Mumbai meeting, probably next month.
Why UPA changed to INDIA?
UPA hasn’t changed into INDIA just for the sake of change. This new front, INDIA will be a lot different from UPA which ruled the country fro two terms – from 2004 to 2008 and again till 2014, led by Sonia Gandhi. It was heavily dominated by Congress. The name of UPA that stands for United Progressive Alliance – was suggested by the Left camp which supported the Manmohan Singh government in 2014.
Left preferred the word Progressive. UPA was to replace NDA that ruled the country for four years from 1999 December to 2004 May led by PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Ever since Congress failed to come back to power in 2004, most of its former allies like Mamata Banarjee have distanced themselves from UPA. At one stage,Mama even declared that UPA is no more.
Since Patna conclave, efforts were on to find an alternative name for the front, instead of UPA. Names like PDA – standing for Patriotic Democratic Alliance and We for India, Indian Progressive Front were considered. But, it was dropped for being sounding like copy-paste of ruling NDA. Finally, the opposition camp zeroed in on INDIA – that stands for Indian National Democratic and Inclusive Alliance. Though Congress doesn’t like the change from UPA to INDIA, it has no choice, but to accept.
This INDIA has all the elements of all key players of the opposition camp. The National and Developmental is an answer to NDA’s National Democratic, while Inclusive word fits into Rahul Gandhi’s Inclusive agenda. The short from – India- is catchy and attractive to all as their new slogan INDIA versus BJP led NDA. For some months, Rahul Gandhi has been talking about the Idea of India, that includes all.
Though the second meeting of the camp, held with the banner of Opposition Parties Meet, United We Stand at Bangalore can be called a success, certain fault lines among them are still there. The grouping is still not ready to accept Congress as dominant partner. This implies there is no guarantee that other opposition parties like TMC and AAP won’t field their candidates against Congress in elections. These details maybe taken up at Mumbai.